In order for us to address child trafficking, we must think about the root causes and why a family might traffic their child in the first place. We have identified several root causes of trafficking and of those have selected the ones that we are in the best position to address ourselves. We know that we cannot address all of them on our own, which is why we are working with and seeking partnerships with other organisations that have experience and skills in addressing the issues that we are unable to.
The main factors that lead to trafficking that we have identified and are in a position to address most effectively include poverty, naivety and family separation. Here are the ways in which we are addressing them.
Women Economic Empowerment Programme (WEEP)
Economically empowering caregivers, especially women, is vital in preventing child trafficking. The majority of people in Winneba are fisher- and farmer-folk and much of their work depends on the natural weather. However, with climate change and the unpredictable nature of weather and harvests, it does not always create a sustainable income. Because there is no means to preserve the fishing harvest, often they are forced to throw away what they do not sell or sell at a very low cost, resulting in loss of income. With the opening of the CH Cold Store, many of these issues are addressed: women have a guaranteed supply of fish available locally and fisherfolk have a place to preserve large catches of fish, ensuring profitable sales.
We have erected a covered community smokehouse near the cold store, with 58 smoke ovens open to women in the community, available free of charge.
Additionally, we provide training programmes in fish- and food-preservation, horticulture and soap making, all of which have been identified as being viable business ventures in the local market.
Our microfinance aspect provides women with a loan seed capital in the form of goods, such as fish or soap-making supplies, for them to start their businesses. Repayments are interest free, as long as their children are in school and they do not traffic their children. All families of reintegrated children receive a microgrant of goods, that does not need to be repaid, to ensure their economic stability throughout their child’s reintegration process.
In addition to vocational training and basic supplies, all beneficiaries are given business training and human rights and child protection sensitisation.
Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP)
Tackling the problem of child trafficking and modern slavery requires a long-term vision. Part of our vision to end child trafficking is to provide the young people of Winneba the opportunity to gain good financial skills, healthy living practises and marketable skills to prevent them from trafficking children in the future. Young members of the community, aged 15-25, who have often missed out on education are supported with an intensive programme running five days per week for 16 weeks. By the end of the course, the scholars will have learned Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and CorelDraw, as well as basic hardware maintenance. The ICT, business and leadership skills and training they receive are designed to aid in securing jobs through self-employment, other business ventures or continuing their education at various levels
Child Development Khazanas (CDKs)
Instilling financial literacy and life skills early can go a long way in addressing the cyclical and long-term issues of poverty and naivety. Using the CDK programme established by our partner Butterflies India, we are establishing child savings clubs at schools throughout source communities. These clubs are more than just savings clubs, though, and incorporate first aid training as well. These clubs have already established young citizen leaders in their communities and fostered a sense of civic responsibility.
Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs)
In order to build strong community resistance against child slavery, we rely on volunteers in the communities throughout the region to be on the lookout for child trafficking. In 2016, we had 15 Community Child Protection Committees, which are comprised of local and religious leaders, students and community members. We train the committees on child protection, which covers topics from child development to trauma and how to deliver non-violent discipline for behaviour management. Most neighbourhoods are relatively small and some members are able to notice if they have not seen a certain child for a while. They are then able to take the appropriate actions to locate the child and, if appropriate, report to the authorities.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
From our deep community involvement, we know that, like many other places in the world, there are often disputes between families and couples. Whether is is a question of parents separating or divorcing, parents not paying to support their child, questions of who the child or children should live with or any other family dispute, we have a respected community member, who has been deputised by the court, who can help resolve disputes.
Promote Children’s Right to Education
Friend International Academy, formerly Challenging Heights School, is a shining example of the forces of education in Winneba. Prior to its establishment, the majority of children in the Sankor community, where it is located, did not attend school. Today, that the opposite is true. The presence of a safe and quality school in the area helped to change the attitudes around education. We’re proud of supporting the school to maintain an anti-corporal punishment policy and of the 100% graduation rate that has been sustained for years.
The Hand in Hand for Literacy Community Library provides a safe and modern learning environment to all children and adults in the community, with more than 8,000 books of all levels available to borrow.
In the community, we are working with schools to share the importance and feasibility of anti-corporal punishment policies. We also support the education of reintegrated children with materials and advice from our Reintegration Officers.